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Wire Worms

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

1. WIRE-WORMS—Protection Against for Corn.-I give you my experience with the wire-worm. Being troubled with the little pests one year, I was advised to soak my seed corn in a solution of copperas and saltpeter, using lb. each to a bushel of ears of common eight-rowed corn. The result was that my seed all grew, and I lost none by the wire-worms, and I never saw corn have so dark and vigorous a color before. Since then I have always soaked my corn 12 hours after. being shelled. I do not know as it would affect the cut-worm, but I have never been troubled with them since I used the solution of copperas and saltpeter. Neither was I ever troubled with them when I plowed my corn ground in the fall, which I would invariably do on old sod. Some farmers exterminate them by hunting them out in the hill and killing them by hand, but this is slow and tedious, and is liable to be slighted by hired help. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is a proverb true in this case.—J. B ., in Country Gentleman.

2. Wire-Worms, Protection Against, as Done near London, Eng., where Soot is Plentiful.—An agricultural writer in the London Land and Water, under the head of "Soot vs. Wire-Worms," says: "I found the wire-worm so abundant in every part of the garden I was set to cultivate that I could scarely grow a potato or a carrot without its being rendered useless by it; and, among the various things I was led to adopt as preventives, soot appeared to be the only effectual remedy. This I applied to potato crops in the following manner: The drills were got ready in their usual way and the sets laid in at the bottom of each drill. The soot was then put down upon them in quantity sufficient to cause the drills to assume quite a black appearance. This being done, the drills were closed in the ordinary manner to the natural level, and the work was finished. Wherever soot was applied the crops turned out clean and good; scarcely a trace of the wire-worms' ravages was to be seen, while those from rows not dressed with soot were quite the reverse, the potatoes being pierced through in every direction and fit only for feeding pigs."

Remarks. —This, of course, would be as good in America as in England. The chimney-sweeps of London make the soot plenty there; but this is not followed in our country as closely, notwithstanding its great importance in preventing the star of fires. Where the soot can be obtained it is worthy of a trial.

3. Wire-worms among strawberry vines may be destroyed by a liberal use of wood ashes, or some other form of potash.

4. Wire-Worms, to Starve, or Destroy, When the Ground is Full by Summer Fallow and Salt.—A Michigan farmer writes to the New York Tribune, desiring information in relation to the treatment of low river-bottom land, on which he has failed to get a catch of cultivated grass. He says the original sod of wild grass was turned over and a fair crop of buck-wheat grown but the seeding of a cultivated grass was a failure, at least in spots. That the next season the land was well prepared and planted to corn, which wire-worms destroyed. To this the agricultural editor of that journal replies : " The corn crop being destroyed by wire-worms is evidence that the same insect destroyed the grass seeding. I have never known any crop to grow uninjured, except buckwheat, on land infested with wire-worms. Weeds and some wild grasses, having a hard and tough root, like the buckwheat, will grow; but the more delicate grasses and grain crops are destroyed. The best means of getting rid of the worms is to starve them, or they may be otherwise destroyed by the liberal use of salt, say at the rate of two barrels per acre ; or sowing two crops of buckwheat in succession, keeping the land well cultivated during the time the crops do not occupy it, so that the worms can find nothing to feed upon, will starve them, as they cannot feed on the buckwheat root, it being too hard.

I have in two instances destroyed this insect by a thorough summer-fallow. A field of some ten acres of flat and mucky land was so full of worm that no crop could be successfully grown. This I desired to cultivate. The land was plowed late in the fall, and the following season plowed four or five times, at intervals, so that nothing was allowed to grow, since which time, some 20 years, no worms have been seen or their work. In another case a field of about 20 acres had been much damaged by them. It was summer-fallowed and plowed but three times, with intermediate cultivation with harrow and cultivator, so that nothing grew and no signs of the worm have appeared since, which was some six years ago, a crop of grain or grass having beet. grown annually since. I would advise the inquirer to summer-fallow his land one season in this thorough manner, allowing nothing to grow to feed the worms: then seed, first of October, to grass, of such variety as he desires to raise, without any grain crop with it, and I think he will gain his object of a good seeding."

Remarks.-Although this edition does not speak of applying salt, the season of summer-fallowing, yet, I should certainly do so and by the way, it has been found the refuse salt, which can be obtained at salt-boiling houses, can be got much cheaper than good salt, while it also contains chemical properties which make it much better than common salt as a fertilizer. This has been proved at the Saginaw. Two birds again killed with one stone, Where this can be attained; and where it cannot, the dirty and refuse salt from pork-packing houses, is much cheaper than barrel salt.

5. Cut Worms, to Destroy.—By accident I have discovered a means and time by which to destroy the great garden pest, the cut or collard worm. On picking up a piece of board that lay in my walk-way, a few days ago, ï dis-covered several worms. Curiosity led me to turn other boards that lay near. To my great astonishment, when I had turned nearly a dozen, in different parts of the garden, I found that I had killed 76 worms and destroyed scores of eggs, which look like little bits of lint cotton rolled up. The next day I searched the same boards, which I had carefully replaced, and killed 78 worms. The third search I found a small collar-head (small cabbage) that had been cut for cows and left by being overlooked. On examining it, there were found under it and on it 26 worms. My suggestion is to lay boards (pine is the best) about for traps, in the spring, and watch them closely; the saving in young vegetables will be immense.-Southern Plantation.

Remarks.—Let this destruction of these worms commence as early as. the spring opens, and you may consider your cucumbers, cabbages, etc., quite safe.

6. Cut Worms and Birds, to Prevent From Cutting or Pulling Corn and Other Grain, by Preparing the Seed Before Planting.-The Ohio Farmer tells us that a horticulturist " prevents all kinds of grain from the ravages of the cut-worm, birds, etc., by dissolving sulphate of iron (copperas) 1 lb. and aloes 1 oz. in water heated to 90 or 95 and sufficient to soak 1 bushel of seed grain in, before planting." The iron and the aloes are too much for them. I think also this would be too much for bugs on cucumbers, squashes, melon vines, etc.

1. CUCUMBERS—Fresh for Townspeople, who have only a Small Yard.—A Wisconsin gardener, on the strength of experience, recommends townspeople who want fresh cucumbers, to grow them in a barrel half sunk in the back yard, half filled with manure, and the remainder with soil; the seeds planted on the surface, and vines drooping over the sides.

Remarks.-They do well, I know, by supporting the vines on bushes, al-though planted in the ordinary way in a garden. One writer says they will grow on a trellis as readily as grape-vines. In small gardens this is an Object.

2. Cucumbers, Melons, Cabbage, Tomatoes, etc.-To prevent Bugs from destroying the Plant.—I. For Cucumbers.-Experience has shown that if a box or frame about 12 inches square, and 5 or 6 inches deep, having neither top nor bottom, is put over each hill of cucumbers when planted, and banked up around the bottom so that the striped bug cannot crawl under, they will never light down in the boxes, and hence, any ,plants thus protected are safe from their depredations. Boxes may be removed before the plants begin to run over them, and be saved for another year. Half-inch stuff is heavy enough for them, if well nailed. See also Oiled Cloth tor Hot-Beds; Boxes tot Hills; Safe Culture from Bugs, etc., which is only a little more expensive.

II. For Cabbage, Tomatoes, etc.—In place of boxes, other persons have recommended the peeling of ash, bass wood, or other saplings of about 4 inches in diameter, that will peel, be cut off in lengths of about 4 or 5 inches, and the rings placed over cabbage, tomatoes, or other plants as a perfect' protection, -securing well at the bottom to prevent their crawling under. When the bark of any suitable tree cannot be got, pasteboard rings, I think, would answer all purposes, tied together to prevent them from opening out. The same as the barks would be.

III. For Melons, or other plants in hills, use the hark of larger trees. This, the writer claimed to be better than paper, which I had recommended in one of my former books, as the bark does not soften down by the rains. Boxes -will do just as well, if any less trouble to obtain. Either must be pressed a little into the ground so the bugs cannot crawl under. See also insecticide, and other things to destroy insects, bugs, etc. upon plants.

4. Another plan, and claimed to be safe, is to sprinkle a little fine soot upon cucumber vines, squash, etc., which are liable to be attacked by any insects. If good against wire-worms (which see), why not good against these pests, too? It no doubt is.

5. Another writer says: "Last season I kept the striped bugs from my cucumber vines by saturating (making perfectly wet) ashes with kerosene and applying a handful to a hill." He does not say, but I think he means to the ground, as they burrow in the ground at night, and, as a writer says in some 'other place, "they don't come up, or out, in the morning." They are killed by it.

6. Cucumbers a Paying Crop.—A correspondent of the Country Gentleman tells us how he makes cucumbers a paying crop. He says;

"I find cucumbers a paying crop when grown for pickles, and sold either before or after salting—price per hundered the same in either case. I plow as deep as 2 horses can pull the plow, then mark one way 4 feet apart, letting the plow run as deep as the ground was plowed. 'I then put a large shovelful of good barnyard manure where each hill is wanted, say 4 feet apart, and then thoroughly mix with the soil, making the hills about 2 inches higher than the general surface of the ground. I plant about the middle of June.

" As soon as the plants get large enough to be out of the way of the stri bug, I thin out to 4 plants to each hill. I cultivatethem frequently, and hand-hoe them 2 or 3 times before the vines commence to run. In this vicinity the price ranges from 50 cents to $1 per hundred, and the product of an acre sells from $400 to $800."

On the same subject a correspondent of the Portland (Me.) Transcript says:

"In my opinion there is nothing that a farmer can realize so much money from as he can from raising cucumbers. If they are pickled the right size and well preserved in strong salt pickle, there is always a market for them. Some farmers have already commenced raising cucumbers for the pickle's, and are well pleased with the undertaking. The average crop for 1 acre of ground is about 50 barrels, which will bring about $5 a barrel at the factories. Perhaps it will be well to state to the farmers of Maine that on account of the scarcity of cucumbers here hundreds of thousands of dollars go out of this state annually for pickles. Even in Massachusetts and .New York the supply does not meet the demand and they are compelled to go west for their pickles. This state is well adapted to the growing of cucumbers, and they are preferable to those raised in warmer climates."

Remarks.—Although cucumbers are a paying crop near the cities, yet it is not expected that the general farmer throughout the country would find it so, unless he can make previous arrangements with some of the city dealers, or factories which put up pickles, to buy what he may raise, put up in brine, or salt pickle as above called, which may then prove profitable, after a little experience at first, in a small way. See also the profitableness of onion culture.

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